Guest Post: Allex shares Bright Eyes (AKA Conor Oberst Part I)

Welcome back, everybody. Or, shall I say, welcome me back, everybody. Last week got away from me so consider it my Spring Break (haha) or like those times when you were a kid, tuned into PBS only to see that they are running a telethon and disrupting regularly scheduled quality programming.

Fortunately, to make up for it, I have a treat for you. I give you now the gift of hearing from my own dear sister, the indefatigable Allex Adams. Our music collections, not unlike our earth-suits, share a lot of basic genetic material, but the results are still very different to the eye and to the ear (see this year's Valentine's Post). She's passionate about art and music, and that is why I asked her to post on the subject of Bright Eyes.

To be fair, it was I who brought the first pinch of it into the house. It was "Bowl of Oranges", and a recommendation from a high school boyfriend with impeccable music taste of his own. I liked the song but I didn't really take it and run. To this day, I prefer the solo work of Conor Oberst, the driving force behind the machine known as Bright Eyes. The exception is Cassadaga, and I will probably cover that by itself in a later post. But I wanted a fresh voice to help me ring in the artist, and there is nobody better qualified to talk about it than my sister. So, without further ado, I present...

Here is a list of criticisms about Bright Eyes that I won't hear, and won't respond to:

"I can't stand his voice!"

"It's way too depressing!"

"Conor Oberst writes girl music."


Now, I'm not ignoring the early Bright Eyes canon- rough, ratty, and reeking of horrors most prepubescent... but paddle past the year 2000, and here is the awakening spirit of discovery and disappointment, the kind that defines love itself. That's my message to the critics. Listen to Bright Eyes the way you fall in love, not the way you sense sound. For me, Bright Eyes adoration didn't really begin until I met a boy; soon, a thirst first whet by a song or two over the course of a year or so would be quenched.

One year- one year!- passed since first asking him- him, the tall dark handsome Rivers Cuomo-tribute type!!- for a Bright Eyes education. But finally Sean handed me that holey, holy plastic bag of CDs. He loaned me every single one he owned AT THE SAME TIME, under the assumption that I would upload them all to my digital library at home, return them to him at school the next day, and then I could pick at what I wanted, when I wanted. In retrospect, that would have been very considerate of me...

But that is not what I did!

Instead, I allowed the unexpected downpour of Sean's music to fill a baptismal font of Conor Oberst's grey matter, immersing myself deep into each album individually with the volume at 11 and the liner notes always open. I drowned, promptly. Bright Eyes was heaven's big church band conducted by the new president of the Lonely Hearts Club; the lyrics so true they hurt. I had inherited six Bright Eyes albums all at once, and I couldn't breathe until I knew every single word by heart. 

When I came up for air five months later, my hair had grown long, and my lender's opinion of my borrowing skills was irreparable. But the love between Bright Eyes and I is the kind you take a few losses for.

If I get to pick a few songs, it'd be these, and in this order: (Listen along at The Moon Forces Metal: Bright Eyes)

For Your Playlist: Side A
1. "An Attempt to Tip the Scales" from Fevers and Mirrors
2. "From a Balance Beam" from LIFTED: Or, The Story Is in the Soil; Keep Your Ear To The Ground
3. "First Day of My Life" from I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
4. "Theme from Pinata" from Digital Ash in a Digital Urn
5. "Happy Birthday To Me (Feb. 15)" from Noise Floor: Rarities

For Your Playlist: Side B (chosen by your humble hostess from a mix CD Allex made me in 2008)
1. "Method Acting" from LIFTED (warning: some strong language in this one)
2. "Landlocked Blues" from Motion Sickness: Live Recordings
3. "Down in a Rabbit Hole" from Digital Ash in a Digital Urn
4. "No One Would Riot for Less" from Cassadaga
5. Bonus Selection: "From A Balance Beam" by the Vitamin String Quartet's Tribute to Bright Eyes

A big vote of thanks to my talented sister, I think, is here due. You may pause the music to applaud... and now resume. Til next time, happy listening! Speaking of next time, get ready to hear my take on the talent behind Bright Eyes in the next post.

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